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Refusing to Sign Disciplinary Form is Misconduct

On June 14th, 2012, in Paratransit Inc. v. Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, (California Courts of Appeal – 3rd District, No. C063863), the court held that an employee refusal to sign a disciplinary memorandum established misconduct which barred the employee from collecting unemployment benefits.

In Paratransit, Medeiros, an employee, refused to sign a disciplinary memorandum regarding an incident of misconduct. Medeiros felt that he should not sign anything without a union representative present. Paratransit made assurances to him that by signing the memorandum it was not an admission of guilt and that by refusing to sign he could be terminated. Medeiros was unsuccessful in his attempt to claim unemployment benefits.

An administrative law judge ruled in favor of Paratransit, citing that Medeiros had disobeyed the employer and was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. The unemployment Insurance Board disagreed, determining that Medeiros mistake was a good faith error. The Trial court disagreed with the Board and concluded that not signing the memorandum was misconduct and therefore disqualified Medeiros from unemployment benefits.

The appeals court affirmed the trial courts decision. The appeals court relied on the Unemployment Insurance Code, which stated that if an employee has been discharged for misconduct they can't receive unemployment benefits. The court found that Medeiros was told to sign the memorandum and that his signature was not an admission of guilt. The court coupled the finding with the fact that Medeiros directly disobeyed Paratransit by not signing the memorandum. Under the totality of the circumstances test the court found that this qualified as misconduct.

If you have suffered from retaliation or unlawful termination, please do not hesitate to contact a Southern California Employment attorney today.

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